In a Sow’s Ear 3-1-10
Those of us over the age of, ahem, … are sensitive to articles, ads and conversation swirling around the subject of “Old Age.” At least that’s true of this writer. Fortunately, my typing fingers still work, but many other body parts have lost their oomph, elasticity and general spiffiness. I used to walk to the corrals but now I drive. I used to ride my saddlemare on a daily basis but now the most I do is lean on her. I used to take the three steps up to the back door in one jump. Now I shuffle up a ramp.
You get the idea. Old age is a condition of decay wherein one contemplates what one “used to do.” So a couple of years back I wrote a book titled (at that time): “How To Be Elderly, A User’s Guide.” However, the publisher rejected the manuscript on the basis of “it isn’t right for us.” (Translation: A tad too acerbic. Not enough syrupy prose about the “golden years.” And way too much irony).
In one short chapter I wrote about how people coped with aging a couple hundred years ago. In those days, folks consulted a tome called The People’s Home Library. This pithy volume offered advice on all sorts of ailments. To clear up catarrh (that would be that phlegm you have to spend 20 minutes coughing up or blowing out your honker every morning), you would have mixed up some salt water and snuffed it up your nose several times a day. (If you try this, don’t do it in front of company or even the cat. Cats are sensitive).
Lemons, according to the Home Library, would alleviate or cure an array of problems. You could remove freckles by rubbing a piece of lemon on the offending freckle spots. (Liver spots, not so much). Should you suffer an attack of biliousness (a condition affecting one’s liver or your sorehead relative’s disposition), you took a couple of ounces of lemon juice in water three or four times a day. (For Sorehead Relative, you might have to put the juice in a jigger of Old Overshoe Whiskey.)
Kerosene was another favored fixer of a variety of disorders. You could sooth your rheumatism by thoroughly and frequently rubbing the ouchy places with kerosene oil. Should you suffer from lice or ringworm, you destroyed the vermin by shampooing with kerosene. Have dandruff and scalp itch? Mix kerosene oil with glycerin and rub it in. (Which made you smell like sheep dip and ruined your social life).
Still, comparing olden days to current times, it’s better to be going over the hill in today’s climate. Think of it. You can take a shower or tub bath any time by turning on a faucet instead of standing in the rain or sitting in a tin washtub.
When your age-weakened plumbing causes you to rise several times in the night to relieve yourself, you don’t have to stumble to the outhouse in the dark or use the slop jar (kept under the bed). You merely flip on the light switch in your tastefully decorated lavatory, attend to your need and don’t forget to flush.
“They” told you that in your “golden years” you would acquire wisdom, understanding, tolerance and a bunch of other claptrap. Happily you discover you just don’t give a doggone darn. In fact, you are now free to do as you please.
I’ve just acquired a motorcycle with sidecar. This summer, my dog, Bailout, and I are going on a road trip to explore some of the back roads of Montana. If you happen to see a little old woman driving a red motorcycle with a dog in the sidecar, that would be me and Bailout.
Be sure to wave.
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